No matter how carefully we protect them, kids can become victims of sexual violence. Support and understanding can help them recover.
Believe her or him. Young people need to be supported and encouraged by your listening. Accuracy of details can be checked out later.
Respond calmly and with reassurance.
Tell the young person:
- “I am glad you told me. It is not your fault.“
- “I am sorry this happened to you.”
- “I will do my best to protect you.”
- “It is normal and okay to have the feelings you are having.”
Ensure their immediate safety. Help them get to a safe place. In an emergency, call 911.
(Note: Any adult suspecting the abuse of a minor by a caretaker is legally required to report to the police or to the Department of Social Services at 919-245-2755. If you are unsure of your legal requirements, call the Center for advice at 1-866-WE LISTEN.)
Get help. They may need to see a doctor, counselor, police, or lawyer.
(Note: Allow a teenager the final choice of whether to report an assault by a peer to law enforcement. Offer your assistance in the decision but do not force them to report. If you are unsure of your legal requirements, call the Center for advice at 1-866-WE LISTEN.)
Respect their privacy about the details of the incident and who is told. Let them lead the way in talking about what happened.
Try to follow normal routines. This provides reassurance while they seek to re-establishing a sense of control over their life.
Recognize your own feelings. Get help, such as support from the Center or a counselor. It’s hard to help someone when you are troubled.